Last edited 29 Apr 2020

Fragile surface

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 define a ‘fragile surface’ as: ‘…a surface which would be liable to fail if any reasonably foreseeable loading were to be applied to it.’

The Regulations impose duties for the avoidance of risks from fragile surfaces:

9.—(1) Every employer shall ensure that no person at work passes across or near, or works on, from or near, a fragile surface where it is reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without his doing so.

(2) Where it is not reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without passing across or near, or working on, from or near, a fragile surface, every employer shall—

  • (a)ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guard rails or similar means of support or protection are provided and used so that any foreseeable loading is supported by such supports or borne by such protection;
  • (b)where a risk of a person at work falling remains despite the measures taken under the preceding provisions of this regulation, take suitable and sufficient measures to minimise the distances and consequences of his fall.

(3) Where any person at work may pass across or near, or work on, from or near, a fragile surface, every employer shall ensure that—

  • (a)prominent warning notices are so far as is reasonably practicable affixed at the approach to the place where the fragile surface is situated; or
  • (b)where that is not reasonably practicable, such persons are made aware of it by other means.

(4) Paragraph (3) shall not apply where members of the police, fire, ambulance or other emergency services are acting in an emergency.

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